Dense green rainforests, endless idyllic beaches and the beautiful Great Barrier Reef all come to mind when planning a trip to Cairns. With so much to see and do I’ve put together my ultimate ‘Top 5 Experiences’ when you’re next in Cairns!
1. Cairns Esplanade and Lagoon
The perfect place to start your Cairns adventure is in the heart of the city at the Esplanade and Lagoon precinct. A 3km boardwalk winds its way along the foreshore and is a popular place for joggers, cyclists or those just wanting a leisurely walk with stunning views of the ocean and mountains. It finishes at the lagoon, which is a great spot to reward yourself with a swim!
Tip: Why not bring a picnic along and make use of one of the many BBQ’s available in the parkland or grab a bite to eat at one of the great cafes along the Esplanade!
2. Cairns Northern Beaches
The northern beaches of Cairns are home to a postcard perfect, palm tree lined paradise that is just a short 20minute drive out of the city. A lot of the beaches are patrolled by lifeguards and some have stinger nets during the warmer months. Be sure to only swim between the flags and if you’re in the water in the warmer months it’s a good idea to wear a stinger suit to help prevent a potential jellyfish sting.
Tip: Palm Cove is a real gem for sunrise photography! There’s a large number of palms along the beach, especially at the southern end. They make a great backdrop and afterwards you can kick back in the shade with a nice tropical cocktail or cold beer!
3. Island Hopping
Cairns has a great range of tropical islands all relatively close and easy to access for day trips. Fitzroy, Frankland and Green Islands are some of the more popular destinations and each have their own unique drawcards. Fitzroy Island is home to the turtle rehabilitation centre and the famous Nudey Beach (don’t worry it’s not a real nudist beach!), the Frankland Islands have incredible snorkelling and Green Island has Marineland Melanesia, a nautical museum featuring live crocodiles and marine aquariums.
Tip: If there’s particular marine life that you really want to see such as clown fish, turtles or even a type of coral, be sure to ask one of the tour guides on your trip. They often know the best places to see the marine life you’re looking for!
4. Great Barrier Reef
It wouldn’t be a trip to Cairns without experiencing the Great Barrier Reef! There are a number of ways to do this, you can do a day trip to one of the nearby islands in the inner reef, you can do trips to the outer reef or alternatively you could spend a few nights on a yacht sailing to wherever your heart desires.
Tip: If you’ve never tried diving before, this is the place to do it. There are introductory diving options available where you can take part in a dive with an accredited dive master. It’s a great way to see if diving is for you and an incredible way to experience the amazing underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef.
5. Waterfall Circuit
A short drive from Cairns is the Atherton Tablelands and the Waterfall Circuit. Amongst the circuit is one of the most famous and photographed waterfalls in Australia, Millaa Millaa Falls. Don’t just stop at Millaa Millaa though, there’s two other beautiful waterfalls in this circuit and a few more not too far away. Allow a full day so you can fully explore these natural beauties and don’t forget to bring your camera!
Tip: Millaa Millaa is quite popular so if you want to get the waterfall all to yourself, the best time to visit is first thing in the morning. There’s also change rooms here so you can go for a swim in the rockpool at the base. If you’re lucky you might also be able to spot the Ulysses butterfly or one of the platypi that live here!
Comfort Inn Cairns City is a great place to base yourself to experience the best of Cairns and tropical north Queensland. The Comfort Inn team have exceptional customer service, easy parking and clean, well-appointed rooms to ensure you’ll have an enjoyable stay.
I loved my stay so much that I extended it by another night! It’s located just a short walk from the Esplanade and is close to the airport. Another huge bonus is that tour operators also offer a pick-up service right to the front door.
Words and images by Mark Fitz.